Does a compound that causes myelin damage cause brain copper deficiency?

Dr Mark Hackett

Curtin University, WA

| Causes and Prevention | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2024 | Investigator Led Research |


Healthy brain function requires metal ions such as copper for energy production. If the brain does not have enough copper, brain damage occurs. Researchers have observed that feeding laboratory models a compound called cuprizone induces damage to the brain that is similar to MS. Most researchers believe that cuprizone binds strongly to copper, preventing it from reaching the brain. Unfortunately, definitive proof that cuprizone causes deficiency of copper in the brain is lacking, hindering research on the role copper may play in MS. One reason for this is that metal ions are “invisible” to many analytical techniques, making it difficult to directly prove that copper deficiency is occurring in regions of tissue damage.

To solve this analytical problem, Dr Hackett has been developing new imaging tools that enable neuroscientists to visualise metal ions in brain tissue. While metal ions are invisible to the human eye, they are not invisible to X-rays. In this project, Dr Hackett’s research team will use their recently developed microscopy tools to image copper distribution in the brain of laboratory models of MS.

The results of the study are expected to reveal the specific location and cell types in the brain that exhibit copper deficiency. These discoveries will enable Dr. Hackett and his team to focus on particular pathways in the brain that may be influenced by copper in the context of MS.

Updated: 22 January, 2024

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


Dr Mark Hackett


  • Professor Melinda Fitzgerald
  • Dr Brittney Lins
  • Dr Gaewyn Ellison

Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 1 year – starting 2024

Read More

Newsletter subscription

  • Enter your details

Does a compound that causes myelin damage cause brain copper deficiency?